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‘Where will we be in five years? Let’s keep the conversations going.’
American Dairy Coalition participated in a productive American Farm Bureau Federal Milk Marketing Order Forum in Kansas City Oct. 14-16.
“We thank American Farm Bureau for having this Forum that is vital to building consensus to move forward in a positive direction,” said ADC CEO Laurie Fischer. “ADC led an event at World Dairy Expo preparing for Kansas City. What we heard was strong support for federal orders as a ‘referee.’”
At the same time, Fischer said, “Farmers want a say in the process. The Forum in Kansas City is a major piece of that. Farmers also want a secure vote, a private individual vote in the federal order hearing process.”
Gretl Schlatter (pictured below), Ohio dairy producer and ADC board member, addressed the 200 Forum attendees, representing 145 organizations, farms, co-ops, and processors from 36 states.
“As dairy farmers, we thank AFBF for bringing us together. Sitting at tables with people from other states, other parts of the industry, all together in the same room, we took in a lot. We agreed we should return to the ‘higher of’ method for Class I. We don’t want to get away from federal orders, we don’t want that instability. We have issues to overcome in our own regions, but we must also pay attention to the broader industry, and for that, there is a great need for market transparency,” she said.
“We heard about global market opportunities, the impact of declining fluid milk sales, consolidation, plant closures, and issues getting milk to where the people are. We also heard about aseptic, shelf-stable milk,” said Schlatter.
“Where will we be in five years? We do not want to give up on fresh fluid milk – our nutrition powerhouse,” she reported. “We see ‘three cow paths’ ahead – the short-term, the long-term, and the undefined. This is a wake-up call for dairy farmers to engage. While the issue now is federal milk pricing, the next one coming -- fast -- is the sustainability benchmarks, the climate scores. We need to keep meeting like this as an industry, keep talking to each other, and get ready for the next big thing affecting our farms and family businesses.”
American Dairy Coalition signed onto AFBF’s post-forum commitment to generally move forward in support of the importance of federal orders and to recognize the need for updates, the importance of price discovery, clear and timely payment, and reducing the price incentives that lead to de-pooling.
“ADC wants to work with AFBF on an educational component to help farmers continue to engage in the process and to navigate the risk and challenges ahead. Let’s keep these conversations going,” said Fischer.